The market for organic food has grown in leaps and bounds over the last decade. Growers and producers have kept up to meet the ever-expanding demand, using innovation to gain a competitive edge while staying true to their values of promoting health and sustainability, says Marie-Michèle Le Moine, Fruit d’Or’s retail division director, and brand ambassador for Patience Fruit & Co.
“The organic community has much to celebrate at the tenth anniversary of Organic Week. It is quite amazing what has been achieved,” she says. “Reflecting back, I remember how proud and happy we were when we had our first organic cranberry harvest in 1998.”
At the time, Fruit d’Or didn’t have a lot of buyers, so the family business worked with like-minded organic pioneers to create a robust market. Today, one-third of all cranberries are now grown organically in Quebec, and Ms. Le Moine envisions building “a similarly strong organic ecosystem for the wild blueberries that are grown here.”
Environmental sustainability was the main motivation for switching to organic production, she says. “We want to use the land in a way that allows us harvest crops year after year, and pass it along to future generations.”
The goal of working with – rather than against – nature is one that unites members of the organic community, says Ms. Le Moine. “We apply the same values to sourcing and selecting the right ingredients and processing the food.”
An example is Patience Fruit & Co.’s new Active Blend product line, which includes carefully balanced organic ingredients to provide an energy boost for active people, she says. “I see a lot of innovation and care going into organic products – and that is reflected in the outcomes.”
The culture of innovation can also be a source for sustainable solutions, says Ms. Le Moine. Fruit d’Or’s approach to combating common pests, for example, comes out of “in-house research,” she says. “Organic production forbids the use of chemical pesticides, so we found that early-season flooding is a natural way for suppressing certain insect populations.”
Cranberry fields are already set up for flooding, since this is how the fruit are harvested, and Ms. Le Moine adds that some conventional growers have now also adopted this method.
From creating Fruit d’Or nearly two decades ago and Patience Fruit & Co. five years ago, the operation has grown from one farm of approximately 100 acres to an over-3,000-acre production in collaboration with different farms. Last year, the business reached the milestone of doubling the size of crop of organic cranberries.
Ms. Le Moine sees this as part of the effort to “democratize access to organic,” she says. “By expanding the organic market, we are strengthening a sustainable source of good food.”
While much has been achieved in raising the profile of organic food, Ms. Le Moine believes it is important to sustain this momentum. “We want to share our values more widely and make organics even more accessible. We want to inspire more people to be involved in growing this sector for the future.”
Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.